After reading the editorial “For Logsdon and HSU, the most important question is ‘why’,” I couldn’t help but agree with the author.
I am a student at Logsdon Seminary in San Antonio, and like many other people, I found the official rationale for closing the seminary to be unsatisfactory. In my mind, the question that arises is: “What is then the unofficial reason? Maybe that would make it clear to me.”
About a year ago, when Hardin-Simmons University leadership announced the closing of four Logsdon sites, it was clear to me the number of students was too small to justify the expenses.
As an engineer who has worked in the automotive industry installing production plants and relocating others, it makes total sense to me that (1) businesses are created to generate wealth, and (2) when a production line is not generating the profit expected, you can relocate it before closing it. I helped move production lines from Chicago to Mexico and later from Mexico to China.
It seems to me, based on the decision made by the board, that there only were two choices—to close or not to close Logsdon Seminary. That seems to narrow analysis to a financial perspective.
But close or not to close are not the only possibilities. There is at least a third one—relocate it, change it, adjust it.
Strength and growth at the San Antonio campus
When a similar analysis was done last year, four Logsdon campuses were closed, but not the entire seminary. The decision was to close just the sites with fewer students. Why didn’t the board follow the same rationale in this case?
As far as I can see, the student population at the main campus was declining in the past years, while maintaining a high overhead cost. The San Antonio campus, however, presents a different scenario.
San Antonio’s campus is a fantastic place to study, and it is growing. There are more students at San Antonio than in Abilene, and the overhead is less.
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The existence of the San Antonio campus is a real miracle by the grace of God, who blessed the hard work of Dr. Walter Goodman. He started it from nothing with the fantastic partnership of Trinity Baptist Church, whose leadership and commitment has no parallel.
Logsdon and Trinity are—from any perspective—a winning team. You don’t leave a winning team.
The finances of Logsdon taken as a whole may not be in good shape. I can grant this. But if the analysis separates the San Antonio campus from the Abilene campus, the logical decision would be to close the Abilene campus and keep the San Antonio campus open. The San Antonio campus may not support the overhead cost of the Abilene campus, but it can stand by itself.
In short: relocate Logsdon. Not by sending Abilene’s professors to San Antonio, which would increase expenses, but by relocating the authority and giving the San Antonio site’s leadership autonomy to oversee its programs, keeping overhead low.
San Antonio campus needed for a diverse demographic
Closing the San Antonio campus is a real tragedy for a reason most people ignore—its demographics.
Logsdon in San Antonio is the only Baptist seminary in Texas serving minorities in large numbers. The Abilene campus serves mainly white people, as well as most other seminaries in Texas.
When I walk into the campus and talk with my fellow students, I see all colors, all ethnicities—Hispanics, Africans, African Americans, Asians and Anglo students—and many countries represented. I see more brown, black and other people than white, which makes studying here a truly multicultural experience.
Logsdon in San Antonio is the only Texas seminary with this population. This is a big deal. I wonder, how will Texas Baptists serve these communities when the seminary currently serving them is closing?
The reason for this rich, multi-colored population is, in part, the presence of the Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio and the support of the BGCT through scholarships.
We need an affordable, high-quality, multicultural seminary in San Antonio. Logsdon fits that bill. Without Logsdon in San Antonio, where will new generations of non-white scholars be educated?
The loss is great, indeed.
Addressing supposed liberalism
Some say the unofficial reason for closing Logsdon Seminary is because it became too liberal. I disagree.
I am very conservative in my theology. I shared with the Hispanic congregation I served as pastor for 10 years many of the things I learned at Logsdon.
Certainly, I have been exposed to different theological perspectives, which I appreciate. Historically, my people were indoctrinated instead of being taught to think theologically for themselves.
I do not want a place where I will be indoctrinated. I want a place where ideas are discussed, exposed, critiqued and evaluated.
Is having a better understanding of the big picture being liberal? I don’t think so. A good seminary will prepare its students to have an analytic mind that evaluates ideas and has a strong foundation in the Bible. I have experienced that at Logsdon in San Antonio.
Accusations about professors supporting LGBT agendas are not true, at least not in San Antonio. I would be the first person to denounce it if that was the case.
Creation of wealth is a good reason to keep a business open, but the justification for keeping a seminary open goes beyond finances. A seminary is the soul, heart and identity of a university and, by its influence, our local churches.
Like my fellow students, I also hope for a miracle, and the name of the miracle is to see the San Antonio campus remain open.
Francisco Ramos is married with two children. He has been a Baptist since age 18 and was born and raised in Mexico. He was a Bible teacher at the Baptist Bible Institute (BUA) and was pastor of Iglesia Bautista la Fe in San Antonio for 10 years. The views expressed are those solely of the author.